What KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has learned from one year of social service on LinkedIn

Tuesday July 7, 2015 comments Tags: KLM, KLM Royal Dutch Airl, Karlijn Vogel-Meijer, LinkedIn, LinkedIn in Business

By Karlijn Vogel-Meijer, Manager Social Media
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Lately I’ve been reading some blogs from social influencers saying they want LinkedIn to be used again for its original purpose:  building valuable business connections. But what if your customers are asking for more?  Should you ignore their requests or should you develop your account on LinkedIn in the way that your customers are asking for? We decided to do the latter.

KLM’s social strategy is clean and simple. It consists of three pillars: service, brand & reputation and commerce. We believe service is the basis of everything we do on social, it is a reason for fans and customers to follow us on social platforms. You can ask us anything, 24/7 in 14 languages. We currently receive 60.000 mentions a week via various channels. On top of service, our content needs to be relevant and worth sharing:  people will only follow a limited amount of brands, so content needs to be exquisite to make sure people will remain following you.

We believe that if you fill in those first two pillars in the right way, you are able to perform commerce on social. Not some fluffy discussions about improving your brand awareness that will lead to more sales in some way or another. But commercial offers leading to more tickets sales, as tagged via our systems. We earn 25 Million Euros additional sales a year via various social channels.

This strategy has been developed based on our experiences on other platforms and has proven its success so far. But would this strategy also work on LinkedIn?

About a year ago, we used LinkedIn as a business oriented content platform and for posting vacancies at KLM. We had about 75.000 followers. So we were doing ok.

But it felt like we weren’t completely exploring the full potential of LinkedIn, there seemed to be more up there.

As servicing is and has been the basis of everything we do, the big question was whether we could use LinkedIn for servicing, giving our most relevant customers –our frequent flyers- the ability to ask their questions via Linkedin. We know for a fact that not all of our frequent flyers have an account on Facebook and Twitter, but most of them are present at LinkedIn.   

The best way to find out whether servicing on LinkedIn was possible was to start doing it. Learn by trial and error.

These are the most important lessons we learned so far:

  1. Social servicing works on LinkedIn!

The first week we received 30 questions, last week more than 1,000. The fact that customers know how to find us on LinkedIn, proves that we are offering what they need.

  1. Our customers on LinkedIn are more demanding

Once service on LinkedIn had started, we immediately realized that we are dealing with a totally different customer than on other channels. The LinkedIn customer travels a lot, knows what to expect from an airline and is more demanding. Questions are more complex, the tone of voice is different; our followers request a more professional attitude from us.

  1. LinkedIn is not designed for social service yet

Offering service on LinkedIn isn’t easy. We are using our company page but we also created a service group to able our customers to contact us. People need to connect to us and we need to connect to them, before we can actually answer a question in a private environment at all. To let everybody know we provide 24/7 service we’ve pinned a service update on top of the page on desktop. However this feature is not available on mobile yet.

  1. LinkedIn needs improvement on mobile

And that brings us to another challenge: mobile. We are a company with a mobile first policy. Our passengers are on the move, traveling the world going in and out of planes. Most problems occur while they travel. This implies that they want to ask us questions via their smartphone or tablet. Unfortunately not all LinkedIn desktop features are available on mobile as well. Posts appear different on desktop than on mobile, making you extra aware to test on all devices.

Taken into account all of the above, is it worth the effort? We believe so. The fact that the questions keep pouring in, shows us that our customers are appreciating social service on LinkedIn.  The platform is developing rapidly and new features keep on appearing. We hope that service interaction and mobile will be on top of mind of the LinkedIn development team.

In the end, business connections are driven by engagement.   And that is exactly what social service supports. My message to those social influencers that ask for turning back to the original purpose of LinkedIn: look forward instead of backwards. Fans and customers are asking for new things,- make sure you are ready for it. 

KLMKarlijn Vogel-Meijer
Manager Social Media
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines